December 29, 2008
America's Amazing Resilience
By James Lewis

It's hard to believe that seven years ago Osama Bin Laden executed the worst attack on this country since Pearl Harbor. Three thousand people died in a few hours; but in weeks the country was fighting back in the frozen mountains of Afghanistan.

New York City took the biggest terrorist hit, but "Wall Street" did not crumble. Wall Street is now virtual, not bricks-and-mortar. It cannot be killed with a great gash in Manhattan. Up on 42nd Street, four miles from Ground Zero, the New York Times has been trying for the last seven years to sabotage the US response to 9/11, just as if they were never in danger themselves. They don't think the Jihad War has anything to do with them. They are deluded, of course, but they are also protected. They owe their safety to the very people they despise.

The miracle of 9/11 is not that it happened -- we are open and vulnerable by our very nature -- but the amazing resilience of our economy, politics, military and workaday culture -- in spite of that attempted stab to the heart. We are so robust that we can even be stampeded by a parade of media airheads and political frauds -- and still prevail. It's scary as hell to watch, but it also reflects an amazing set of core strengths.

No sane regime in the world will ever knowingly support a 9/11 assault on us again, like the Taliban did; they know they would suffer the fate of Saddam Hussein, hung by his neck along with the Taliban fanatics who are either dead, in Gitmo, or back in the mountains making guerilla war. Bin Laden is hiding out in Waziristan, constantly being chased by deadly Predator strikes coming out of the clear blue sky.

There's a lesson in that. Don't think it hasn't been learned by potential enemies.

Which goes straight to the pessimistic feelings many conservatives are wrestling with. Many people are still reeling from the sense that America has finally been suckered into a catastrophic swing to the Left. Has our luck finally run out?

Well, suppose all the bad news has some truth. Even then this country would still be the most robust, resilient, and enduring democratic society on earth.

How can I be so sure we will survive a turn to socialism? Other than our response to 9/11?

First, we've been here before. The New Deal was socialism, and it harmed this country by prolonging the Great Depression, according to economists. We grew out of the damage. LBJ's War on Poverty was socialism, doing enormous harm to black families by supporting social pathology.

Our third wave of socialism was affirmative action -- race-and-gender socialism. I have personally watched the decay of academic values in education as a result of affirmative action, and the rise of a gender-and-race paranoia, with many good and decent people being falsely accused because of their race and gender. I believe that affirmative action has led to more racism, just as gender-based affirmative action has undermined trust between men and women. It has been tremendously destructive, not just in the US but also in Europe -- which has left itself wide open to Muslim terrorism because it cannot allow itself to even think the words "Muslim terrorism." It's a kind of pc madness.

So we have seen a great deal of socialism already in the United States. In many cases it has been destructive. The evidence is right in front of our eyes, but if 52% of the voters cast their votes for socialist goodies, they deserve what they will get, both good and bad.

My optimistic point is that the country will survive and thrive regardless.

Thirty years after FDR, Ronald Reagan was elected and the Berlin Wall fell. Twenty years after the Boomer Left took over the culture, the web and radio liberated conservative thought. A few decades after Stalin, and Mao, and Pol Pot, Communism crumbled.

There is nothing irreversible about Obamanism.

Positive things always happen even while we worry about the damage inflicted by foolish and politically corrupt government.

For example, there is the ‘plus' side of immigration. Conservatives are rightly outraged by the massive law-violation of illegal immigration. We try to change that. But we cannot overlook the huge plusses of legal immigration. It has always been a source of talent and renewal in America -- not to mention a constant flow of people who have known tyranny and liberty in their own lives. They still know the difference when native-born Americans are not longer taught their own history.

Around the world, freedom prevails in spite of coercion. Every regulatory regime creates its own black market. And today, the web shall make ye free --- if ye can keep it free.

Faced with the realities of being in office, Obama seems to be making sensible choices at this time. He is making no sudden moves to scare the voters, just as he wrote in his two autobiographies. Yes, he will introduce all kinds of internationalist and socialist vote-buying practices through his environmental activism, universal health care and international treaty commitments. And in the nature of things, Americans will go from enthusiasm and media-fed hype to disillusionment, as the reality strikes home.

Conservatism will grow stronger as Leftism reaches its limits. We've seen it happen before, and if the Carter-equivalent of "America held hostage" happens, and the O administration fails to act, as Carter did, the voters will throw the bums out. If 2% of the voters change their minds, the O's can lose in 2010 or 2012 with 52% of the vote. If you can't control your power-hungry politicians, at least you can keep them scared.

Over the long term, the world is an inconceivably better place because of free markets, free politics, free thought and innovation. The world has been transformed in two hundred years of freedom, far more than it progressed in the previous two thousand years. Not a bad record. We will build on it.

Socialism is in its "Third Way" phase, after the failure of the Soviet Union. What's the Third Way? According to Tony Blair, it's the exploitation of free markets for socialist goals. That gives even the Left a commitment to the free markets that keeps the governing elites fueled with taxes. Taxation is famously the job of plucking the most goose feathers with the least amount of squawking. But that makes all the goose pluckers dependent on a constant supply of fat and healthy geese.

Conservatism is a way to ward off the worst results of untrammeled power and mob demagogues. Nations can tolerate a great deal of decadence, misgovernment, and corrupt public display. To give a cynical example, the sexual revolution promoted by Leftists drunk on power has killed a lot of people -- by disease, drug use, abortion, and destructive life choices. Well, the nation can survive millions of people making self-destructive choices. It's tragic to watch. But we seem to be saving more lives with modern medicine than we are losing by idiotic lifestyle choices. And modern medicine itself is a product of free competition -- of ideas in science, of technologies in the market, and finally, among producers and consumers of medical treatments. Wherever medicine becomes a monopoly of government or a narrow profession, medical advances grind to a halt.

In this time of racial, gender and ethnic socialism, the role of a loyal opposition is to oppose destructive and foolish ideas and policies. The New Media are smarter, better-informed, better-educated, funnier and faster than the declining Old Media. We are just in a better league. We outsmart them -- but they out-corrupt us. We will see how that plays out over the long term.

Even with all the bad news, the country remains resilient. Our Constitution is older and more enduring than any other. Yes, the Left will do its best to undermine freedom, the way they already have in our universities and news media. They will try to turn us into an engine of internationalist Eurosocialism. They want another forty years of untrammeled power. They will use Green politics to impose a heavy regulatory state, and drive wedges by gender, class and race to split our people.

Our job is to be ourselves, and not be intimidated. Don't be apologetic for opposing the hype of the moment. Obama is messianic, but he will be judged by the people who can curb his power. So far, he is moving carefully, trying not to make any sudden moves. His biggest initiatives will be hidden, not public. It is our job to tell the truth. With an administration dependent upon media myths and lies, that will not require anything new -- and then, let the people decide, and live with the results.

There is nothing about conservatism that says the voters can't make foolish choices. It's just that they have to live with the results.